In light of the decision by the judge handling the St. Vincent's Hospital bankruptcy case to approve St. Vincent's retention of a real estate advisor, I joined New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and our other local elected officials in sending a strongly-worded letter to St. Vincent's Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Toney regarding the disposition of the properties. Since, regrettably, we have not heard from Mr. Toney, our primary contact with St. Vincent's, in quite some time, we reached out to him to reiterate the necessity of restoring a full acute care hospital and a 24-hour emergency room on Manhattan's Lower West Side.
On December 11, Governor David Paterson vetoed legislation which I co-sponsored that would have established a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in both vertical and horizontal wells throughout New York State until May of 2011. He also signed an Executive Order requiring the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to reissue a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on fracking in horizontal wells and subject it to a public comment period in early June. The latter move effectively delays all fracking in horizontal wells until at least early summer, enabling the State Legislature to develop legislation to comprehensively address the threats fracking poses.
On December 5, I joined Manhattan Community Board 2 (CB2), the Community Action Alliance on NYU Plan 2031 (CAAN), other elected officials and hundreds of Greenwich Village residents in a rally calling on New York University (NYU) to withdraw its application to acquire more than two acres of City-owned land along Mercer, LaGuardia, Bleecker and West 3rd Streets between Washington Square South and Houston Street.
Every December 1 since 1988, World AIDS Day has been observed around the globe. As New York State’s only openly-HIV-positive State legislator, and as the representative of a district that has one of the highest rates of known HIV infections in the country, HIV/AIDS is, for me, a daily concern. However, I recognize the importance of World AIDS Day in helping to bring the HIV/AIDS pandemic – and what each individual can do to bring an end to it – into focus for the wider public.
After hearing reports that a small vegetable garden planted by a Chelsea resident in a Ninth Avenue bike lane median was removed by a landscaper commissioned by the New York City Parks Department, I and my staff took immediate action to ensure that such plantings not be removed again. We have had continued dialogue and correspondence with the Parks Department seeking written affirmation of the constituent’s right to plant in that public space. I am also in the process of organizing a meeting to discuss how the small but much-needed plots of green space created by protected bike lanes can be planted and maintained by community members across the city. Please see the Chelsea Now story on the issue
On November 19, I moderated a panel entitled “Slower Vehicle Speeds: Healthier New Yorkers” as part of Transportation Alternative’s Stop Speeding Summit, hosted at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. The summit brought together elected officials and leaders in the fields of transportation policy, public health, medicine, traffic safety and enforcement to discuss innovative traffic safety measures. The panel that I moderated focused on the use of hospital and 911 call center data to identify streets and intersections that are most dangerous to pedestrians, as well as efforts to synchronize healthy eating and fitness by providing Summer Play Streets near farmers’ markets. I look forward to continuing to work closely with other elected officials and transpor
On November 19, 2010 I released the following statement in opposition to the New York City Department of Education’s proposal to co-locate a Success Charter Network elementary school with the five high schools currently occupying the Louis D. Brandeis High School campus (145 West 84th Street):
Statement of NYS Senator Thomas K. Duane Re: Proposal to Co-Locate Charter School at Brandeis Campus
On November 11, at Voices of Community Advocates and Leaders New York’s (VOCAL NY) 10th Anniversary Gala, I was honored to receive the inaugural Bob Kohler Award in recognition of my work on behalf of people who are living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, homelessness or incarceration. This award was especially meaningful not only because of my close partnership with VOCAL NY in securing significant legislative victories but also because the award was named for my friend the late Bob Kohler, who was a legendary progressive activist and champion for New York's least advantaged. I was also pleased to share the recognition with the organization's other honorees, U.S.
On October 29, U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler and I sponsored an informational meeting on rent regulation facilitated by the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition. Rent regulation benefits all New Yorkers, whether or not they live in a rent-regulated apartment, and is one of the main reasons that New York is such a racially and economically diverse, dynamic, vibrant and exciting place. At the meeting, Mary Tek of Tenants & Neighbors discussed with an enthusiastic group of tenants recent housing bills passed by the New York State Legislature and New York City Council, the campaign for rent regulation reform and pending legislation, and how to become involved in the fight to strengthen and preserve affordable housing.
On October 21, I had the privilege of giving remarks at the ribbon-cutting of VillageCare's new Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 214 W. Houston Street, which succeeds the beloved but outdated Village Nursing Home on Abingdon Square. This state-of-the-art center builds upon progress that has been made in rehabilitative care, providing facilities for the growing number of people requiring short-stay intensive rehabilitative services so they can return home, rather than becoming permanent nursing home residents. I particularly appreciate VillageCare's consultation with and responsiveness to community concerns throughout the center's planning and construction processes.
On September 23, I along with other elected officials and tenants advocacy organizations co-sponsored the Shalom Tenants Alliance’s (STA) City-wide tenant organizing meeting for tenants of buildings owned and managed by the notorious Shalom family, as well as for tenants of other landlords known for buying rent-regulated buildings, systematically dismantling required building services, and forcing out legal residents through harassment, intimidation, negligence, and deception.
September 19, 2010"Governor Paterson's veto of the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) 30% rent cap bill is an incredible tragedy. Thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS who receive housing assistance from HASA will continue to be forced to live on $11 and change a day because all the rest of their monthly income – in some cases upwards of 70% – must go towards paying rent.
On September 8, Governor Paterson signed into law my bill, the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), to protect the entire school family in every public school across the state. The legislation also specifically protects all students, including those of transgendered experience, from being bulled in schools. DASA was one of the first bills I introduced in the State Senate and I am thrilled that for the first time protections for New York's transgendered community are enshrined in State law. Please see The Villager coverage of the bill signing here.
Excerpt from Sienna Baskin and Melissa Broudo's September 2, 2010 Huffington Post column on New York State's new law, sponsored by Senator Duane and Assembly Member Gottfried and co-authored by the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, that allows sex trafficking victims to clear their records of prostitution-related crimes.
September 2, 2010
A Victory for Survivors of Trafficking in New York State
Finally, after much advocacy and hard work, The North Shore-LIJ Health System (NS-LIJ) has announced a plan, in affiliation with VillageCare, to operate a 24-hour urgent care center at 121A West 20 Street on the Lower West Side of Manhattan. I and the community expect that the proposed facility will provide the highest quality, state-of-the-art urgent care possible and that the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will quickly approve the project. That said, actions speak louder than words. Nothing can be taken for granted. We must remain vigilant until this facility is operational and we can be sure that it is providing the same level of high-quality, culturally sensitive care to all who need it regardless of their ability to pay.
On Thursday, August 5, 2010, Justice Robert Lowe of the New York State Supreme Court denied a motion by Met Life to dismiss the claims of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village tenants for damages resulting from Met Life’s illegal deregulation of apartments and rent overcharges. The ruling came in the ongoing litigation of the Roberts case, in which the State’s highest court had previously found that Met Life and Tishman Speyer, which purchased the complex from Met Life in 2006, had given up their right to deregulate apartments by accepting generous tax benefits under the City’s J-51 program.